Banzi! Imperial Japanese Starter Army I

Box Contents

The Banzi! Imperial Japanese Starter Army is a mix of metal and plastic models containing:

  • x8 IJA sprues (48 Infantry) – Plastic
  • x1 IJA Officer – Metal
  • IJA MMG Team – Metal
  • IJA Medium Mortar Team – Metal
  • Chi-Ha Medium Tank – Plastic

The Use Everything List

Standard Reinforced Platoon
1st Lt (Pistol & Sword) – Regular – 75
Buddy (SMG) – 10
Medic – Regular23pts
IJA Squad – 12 men – 120pts
IJA Squad – 12 men – 120pts120pts
IJA Grenadier Squad – 6 men – 60pts
x2 Light Mortar – 50
IJA Grenadier Squad – 6 men – 60pts
x2 Light Mortar – 50
IJA Grenadier Squad – 6 men – 60pts
x2 Light Mortar – 50
Suicide Anti-Tank Team – Veteran26pts
Suicide Anti-Tank Team – Veteran26pts
Suicide Anti-Tank Team – Regular20pts
Medium Mortar Team – Regular – 50
Spotter – 10
MMG Team – Regular50pts
Chi-Ha Medium Tank – Regular135pts
Total13 Order Dice998pts


  • Rifle – 34
  • SMG – 2
  • Lunge Mine – 3

  • Light Mortar – 6
  • Medium Mortar – 1
  • MMG – 1(2)
  • Light Howitzer – (1)

(x) denotes a vehicle-mounted weapons.

Notes and Analysis

The objective of this list is two part – 1) use as many of the components from the Starter Army as possible and 2) make a List that works at a competitive level. Please in mind, this List was written using only the content of the Starter Army.

When creating this IJA force, I wanted to use as much of the unique features offered to the IJA as possible. We are looking at an infantry horde list that packs triple Lunge Mines and six Light Mortars. The IJA have access to Light Mortars embedded in their Infantry squads, something you rarely see. These three Grenadier units are not only strong fighters in an assault (Fanatics), but also can fire two 1″ HE templates a turn with split fire! That’s right. Each of those squads can fire at three separate targets a turn. One for each Light Mortar and one for the remaining rifles. Now, you do not have to split the fire but if you are faced with a large number of enemy units you can toss out Pins left and right. To support these three six-man Grenadier squads you also have a two 12-man strong Reg. IJA squads. Those units can act as a screen for your Grenadier mortars or serve as a reserve unit to fill in a gap if a Grenadier unit drops.

Keep your Lt close to the two Reg. squads and push forward when the time is right. Your Lt has a sword, giving him Tough Fighter, but he also has a pistol so…double Tough Fighter? (Kidding). Remember, your entire army has Fanatics. The Lt is there to help with Order Tests, but you won’t need him for any Morale Tests because, well, you ignore them. And, because of the Banzi Charge rule, if you want to get into close combat, there is nothing stopping you.

For AT, we went with the only option we have – Suicide AT Team. This unit is another unique IJA option and is both incredibly risky and highly effective. If you can get into contact with an enemy vehicle, you are all but guaranteed to blow that thing sky high. But it’s a big if on making contact. You need to play cagey and hide this lone solider whenever possible. The ability to deploy as a Spotter/Sniper is a major boon but it’s still just one man. A single round of small arms is usually all it takes to eliminate him. And that’s why we took three of them. Of course, if your opponent is spending a round of shooting to take down the AT Team, that is less fire put on your Grenadiers and big IJA squads. Spread these out across the board and hid in ambush position. You will have to force the enemy armor to come to you.

And we’ve also got a tank! It’s one of the better ones available to the IJA. the Chi-Ha is not to be overlooked. A turret mounted Light Howitzer is a 2″ HE template that can deal some serious damage firing over open sights. Two additional MMGs offer even more support. Of course, one of those MMG is rear facing so you may not always have a target, but all that plus Armor 8 for just 135pts? That’s not bad at all.

Unless my math is off – we’ve used every part of the Starter Army with this list. Including all 48 of the plastic IJA infantry! That’s rarely done with these sets and I’m honestly surprised the points worked out. I will note that unlike pretty much every other Armies of… book, the Armies of Imperial Japan includes several unique and interesting Theater Selectors. Theater Selectors in the Armies of… books tend to be nothing more than a list of restrictions. The platoons still follow the exact structure of the Generic Reinforced Platoon – not so with the IJA options. There are Theater Selectors that allow multiple Snipers, mortars, MMGs and AT Teams. The Tarawa Platoon can take 0-3 Snipers! The IJA force is all too often relegated to a wild, fanatical charge into close combat. A pure ‘rush’ army. But that is not the case. If you you one of these Theater Selectors, you can create a powerful defensive army. And that is rarely seen with IJA.

All things considered, you’ve got yourself a unique and powerful IJA force here.

What’s Next?

If you want to expand your USMC from the Starter Set, maybe push up to a 1,000pts List, I would recommend a few additional items:

  • Add Support Teams – The Mortar is great and the MMG is ok but what you could really use is a Sniper and a Flamethrower. You are probably going to be either assaulting a lot with this army, adding a Flamethrower Team for some addition close support would be a big help. And a Sniper to eliminate any enemy HE and close support would be a welcome addition.
  • Get SNFL bits – This Starter Army comes with 48 IJA infantry – that’s a lot of bodies. But it’s also a lot of repeat poses and equipment. To add some variety to your force, snag some of the metal Special Navy Landing Force bits. This not only add variety to your units, it also opens up your options to take SNLF and SNLF Grenadier units.
  • Bigger HE Support – Even though there are already six Light Mortars and a Light Howitzer in the list, I want more and adding some fixed artillery support would be a big help. Even if it’s just a Light Howitzer (Medium would be great too), it adds considerable indirect support. You could also drop a few of the Light Mortars from the list if you’d like to make space for a Howitzer.
  • Add a Truck – If you want to move troops quickly to where they need to be, use a truck. Trucks are probably the most effective method to get your troops across the table. And you want these Fanatic IJA troops to be in close with your opponent. Slap a MMG on the truck and put the petal to the metal!
  • Get Campaign New Guinea – Of all the Armies of…books, Armies of Imperial Japan is the thinnest. The whole book is only 56 pages. Armies of the Soviet Union is 88 and Armies of Germany is 106! All of this is to say, you need more options for your growing IJA collection. My recommendation is to get a copy of Campaign: New Guinea. Not only is it one of the best Campaign books Warlord ever published, it’s a wealth of information, units, Theater Selectors and rules for anyone playing Japan. You are limiting yourself by not exploring what Campaign: New Guinea has to offer. Plus, it may inspire you to start some Australians as well…


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